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French Degrees for Chinese Students Valid Across EU
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French Minister for National Education, Higher Education and Research Gilles de Robien paid a visit to China from February 1-3, bringing with him some exciting news to all Chinese students having studied in France or planning to study there.


De Robien announced that the French academic degrees obtained by Chinese students would be valid across all member states of the EU, China Youth reported on February 6.


As part of his China tour, the French minister met with his Chinese counterpart Zhou Ji to discuss education cooperation between the two countries. After their talks, the two ministers signed a letter of intent toward the mutual recognition of academic degrees and certificates.


The letter indicated that when Chinese students have obtained French academic degrees, these will be recognized throughout the EU. Furthermore, China and France agreed to cancel limits on academic degrees and certificates thereby making further education more convenient for students in both countries.


The agreement will see adjustments made to the administrative regulations on the mutual recognition of academic degrees, amidst changes in the new French LMD system (Licence, Master and Doctorat). LMD is a new system, implemented by France, to adapt to the wider EU education system. It sounds a clarion call to mark the ending of the old French higher education system, seen as being a bastion of pre-war bureaucracy in desperate need of reform.


Each element of the LMD system finds its equal in China with the Licence being equal to the Chinese Bachelor's Degree, Master matching the Chinese Master's degree, and Doctorat partnering the Chinese Doctor's Degree. In French universities, a student needs three years to finish the undergraduate Licence, two further years' study to receive a Master, and three more years to obtain the postgraduate Doctorat.


The new updates are to be drafted into the official text of the agreement and will come into effect at the beginning of the first term in 2007.


According to official French statistics, 16,000 Chinese students are currently studying in France. In 2006, the French Embassy in China granted 8,000 to Chinese students. This number is too low, De Robien stated, adding that both the French government and national universities would welcome more Chinese students.


He admitted that student accommodation provision is lagging in France, but pledged that the government is tackling the problem. France will create 5,000 new dormitories specifically for foreign students and renew 5,000 used dormitories annually. Amidst this slew of new measures, the country is also encouraging foreign students to take part-time jobs. Recently passed regulation now allows those having finished their studies to work in France for one more year.


De Robien fervently hoped that the agreement would also encourage more French students to study in China. Around 11,000 to 12,000 French people are studying Chinese now; with 2,500 of their peers studying in China.


In order to meet the rising demand for Chinese learning, the French Ministry of Education has created a specialized position for Chinese teaching principal. De Robien further revealed that Chinese teaching will reach secondary education since five to six French middle schools will establish Chinese teaching departments next term.


Up to now, China has signed mutual recognition agreement on academic degrees and certificates with 26 countries. Since 2000, the number of foreign students coming to China has continuously risen by over 20 percent. They are spread across close to 500 universities and academic institutes, covering almost all subjects offered by Chinese academia.


(China.org.cn by Zhou Jing, February 8, 2007)

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